You’ll only need a bowl and a whisk to make these Greek sesame and olive oil cookies. They’re very fragrant, crunchy and naturally vegan!
This olive oil cookie recipe is one of those old, traditional recipes that are passed down from generation to generation and requires only a bowl and a whisk. I ‘m pretty sure every household has one or two of those recipes. And except from the fact that these old, trusty recipes are valuable mementos firmly attached with smells, feelings and memories from the past, they also carry with them an entire culture and a way of life which is reflected in the way they treat, measure and make use of each ingredient. The fact that this recipe requires just a few ingredients and only a bowl and a whisk (or even a fork) tells us a lot about the simple way of cooking and the effective use of the limited ingredients people had in their disposal at the those times! These cookies are very simple to make but require just a little labor since they’re not dropped by spoonfuls onto the pan, but they’re individually rolled over some sesame into S-shape “snakes” (or, for the math lovers, integral symbols). They have no eggs, nor dairy, so they are naturally vegan and can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or even more!
These cookies get their incredible aroma from a special ingredient, cinnamon oil. Unfortunately, you can’t substitute cinnamon oil with ground cinnamon, because the result will not be the same. Cinnamon oil is the concentrated oil taken directly from the cinnamon bark, and it’s a very powerful stuff, so powerful that if it comes in direct contact with your skin, it can burn you. I remember one time, when I was about 11 years old, my mom sent me to the bakery near our home to get some cinnamon oil because she wanted to make these cookies. By the time I got back, I had a terrible itch on my hands, caused by a mild burn due to some oil that had been in contact with my hand. Apparently, the baker wasn’t very careful and some of the oil had spilled over the small bottle. So, just take some extra care and keep this away from children, just to be safe.
Back to the cookies now! I’m not gonna tell you that these cookies are healthier than your average butter cookie (though they are!) but I will tell you that everyone who tastes them enjoys them very much! They are the perfect cookies to accompany your afternoon coffee or tea. They’re not soft inside like a chocolate chip cookie, but crisp and a little brittle and they soak up liquids very well. My mom and I like to dip them in our coffee, my father dips them in a glass of water (I know!) and my little nieces dip them in milk.
Fun Fact: My grandma makes them so often that my uncle, her son, jokes and says that by now she could have filled an entire truck with them (true!)
The dough will be somewhat oily. This is natural, so don’t be concerned. On the plus side, it will serve as a natural, good olive oil mask for your hands 🙂
To make the sesame really stick to the cookies, put it in a fine sieve and rinse it with water. Drain well and mix in a tablespoon of sugar.
You can also make these cookies without the sesame, something that will save you time.
Since these cookies keep for very long, my mom usually makes triple the recipe and stores them in airtight containers.
Another olive oil recipe, straight from my mom’s kitchen, is this olive oil, coconut and lemon cake.
- 1 cup olive oil (or half olive and half vegetable oil)
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons raki or grappa or vodka
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- About 4½ cups all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sesame
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- In a large bowl mix sugar, ground cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add the olive oil, the raki and cinnamon extract and whisk for one minute.
- Hold a glass with the orange juice over the bowl and stir in the baking soda. The juice will start to foam. Pour the foam and the juice in the bowl and whisk for another minute.
- Add the flour and mix until a soft dough is formed. At the end you may have to use your hand to mix the dough. If dough is sticky add a bit more flour.
- Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
- Put sesame in a fine sieve, rinse and drain. Add one tablespoon sugar and mix well.
- Preheat oven to 356°F (180°C)
- Spread some sesame on your work surface. Take a piece of dough, the size of a small walnut, knead it in your hands and roll it out to form a 4-inch “snake” the thickness of your little finger. Pass it over the sesame to coat it, and place it onto a lined baking sheet making an S-shape. You can also make little circles.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.
- Let them cool on a rack.
Raki is a cretan spirit similar to grappa. If you don’t have any of these, substitute with vodka.
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